Steven Lugerner | Gravitations Vol II

Track Listing

1. VII
3. IX
4. X
5. VII - X (Attacca)


The greatest improvisers keep an eye open for stimulating new musical settings. San Francisco Bay Area woodwind expert Steven Lugerner, a rising star with a bevy of exceptional albums, has proven adept at creating situations that take jazz’s foremost masters into unexpected realms. His latest album, the digital-only release Gravitations Vol. II, is a gorgeous duo project that places piano great Fred Hersch in an entirely new context.

Lugerner recorded Gravitations Vol. I in 2013 with guitarist/banjoist Angelo Spagnolo, and the concept for the project flowed from some of the free improvisation practices that Lugerner learned from Hersch in 2008 as part of a Carnegie Hall Foundation workshop (so it’s hardly surprising that he sought the pianist out for an encounter). He recorded Hersch early one morning at his Soho apartment in the spring of 2013, looking to capture the first music that he played that day.

“The idea is to record the first few phrases or gestures that come out involuntarily, whatever your hands or brain gravitates toward,” Lugerner says. “I’ll take eight or maybe ten minute-long snippets, transcribe them, and then I orchestrate woodwind parts on top of the original layer. Sometimes I’ll do an exact orchestration of what they’re doing, and other times I’ll harmonize parts on top.”

The resulting music is unlike anything else in Hersch’s extensive discography of duo encounters. Familiar but strange, Gravitations Vol. II is a beautiful and intimate conversation which distills something essential about Hersch’s music, turning his building blocks into sturdy but fanciful and self-contained edifices.